One of the most important decisions a retiree must make is where they will live during their golden years. Many factors need to be considered, such as price, location, access to medical and housekeeping assistance, distance to family and friends, sense of community and more. A retiree’s housing will likely change, out of need or want, at some point in time. So, becoming familiar with all the available options now can help them formulate a housing plan and be ready to make any changes if and when the need arises.
Here are five popular housing options for retirees, each with their owns pros and cons. Which one is right for you?
Aging in Place
The ideal housing option for the vast majority of retirees is to simply stay put. Roughly 77% of those age 50 or older would like to stay in their homes for as long as possible, according to a recent AARP survey. It’s a reasonable and understandable choice. Starting anew at any stage in life can be difficult and worrisome, let alone at an older age. Why not stay in a house you’re familiar and comfortable with?
But as we all know, it’s not always that easy. Personal and housekeeping assistance, safety concerns, transportation needs and solitude are all issues older adults choosing to age in place must deal with. Another significant, and growing problem is the cost of staying put. Retirement is getting more expensive every year and many older adults simply can’t afford what they used to.
Rising prices have, in turn, led many retirees to utilize their homes as the financial assets they are in the form of reverse mortgages. Home equity conversion mortgages are loans available to homeowners aged 62 and older that are borrowed against the equity they own in their house. Instead of making monthly payments, borrowers receive payment from lenders. Retirees can use these funds on anything they need or want, including home improvements, dream vacations, even a new car.
The Housing for Older Persons Act of 1995 allows housing communities to be age-restrictive so long as 80% of its units are occupied by at least one person aged 55. It also eliminated the requirement that such communities have services and facilities specifically designed for the elderly.
What this created is a housing option for retirees that is just like any community they’ve lived in before, except all their neighbors are peers. Retirement communities, also known as active adult communities, typically offer amenities such as fitness centers and swimming pools. The most significant benefit to living in such a setting, however, is mitigating the isolation that often comes with aging by providing a strong sense of community.
For those requiring more help with daily activities than they can get at a retirement community, but not the round-the-clock care of a nursing home, assisted living facilities may be the perfect option. These properties typically consist of individual apartments as well as communal spaces for residents to enjoy each other’s company. On-site staff can help with a variety of housekeeping and personal care tasks.
The downside of assisted living, which is not covered by Medicare, is the price tag. Nationwide, the median annual cost of assisted living in 2021 was $54,000, according to Genworth’s most recent Cost of Care Study. That total is expected to rise to more than $72,000 within the next 10 years.
Continuing Care Retirement Communities
A Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) offers several different retiree housing options all in the same facility. Generally, seniors will move in when they’re healthy and reside in the independent living section of the community. As they age and require more daily care and medical assistance, they can move to assisted living and nursing home areas of the facility.
CCRCs ability to offer increasing levels of care ensures that a retiree will be able to live in the same community as they age and need more daily assistance. But that convenience often comes with a hefty price tag. Most CCRCs require a significant down payment plus monthly fees.
If you’re going to be making a down payment, you might be more interested in doing so on a house of your own. Many retirees choose to spend their golden years in a home that better suits their needs or wishes. Maybe it’s a smaller house that’s easier to manage and more senior-friendly. Maybe it’s a place closer to family and friends – or even the beach!
AAA can help you achieve your retirement dreams with our mortgage and reverse mortgage products, whether that’s buying a perfect home to spend your golden years in or staying just where you are with some extra cash in your pocket. We’re here to help with your big decisions.